The elegantly stylish martial arts meditation The Grandmaster ostensibly portrays the prelegend life of Ip Man, the Wing Chun master who famously taught Bruce Lee. However, those expecting a factory-assembled biopic—or a traditional kung fu film—don't know Chinese auteur Wong Kar-wai very well, do they? With The Grandmaster, Kar-wai lays out the entire history of China's competing martial arts schools, touching at length on their role in Sino-Japanese War-era internecine political struggles. Fortunately, he does it by staging one awesome fight scene after another, emphasizing closeness in combat and building to an epic train-station sequence that is the best 10 minutes of film I've seen this year. Kar-wai also elicits grand movie-star performances from Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Ziyi Zhang, whose silent-filmworthy faces distract from the herky-jerky plot lurches and repetitive camera moves.